01 February 2013

No Tantrum Dinners

I don't ever want to give the impression that life around here is peaches all the time. I'm pretty sure that that is not the impression I give because I do plenty of whining.

A problem we've been having for the last few months has involved eating. For some reason our kid became quite picky. Plus, every night when Eric would get home Ike would only want to play. He had no interest in sitting down to eat dinner. It was tempting to just let him play while we had a nice dinner. Sometimes Eric would let Ike sit on his lap just to keep the peace while we ate. But I wasn't a fan of either of these options. I wanted to have a normal dinner every day, and I wanted to teach our toddler to sit at the table and eat his food with the family.

We were having tantrums (and by "we" obivously I mean "Ike") pretty much every single night. The kid just did not want to sit in his own chair. If we did get him to sit in his chair he would throw his cup and his food. I felt like we just needed to power through these tantrums. Eventually he'd get over it, right? Only, no, he wasn't getting over it. If anything, it was becoming a part of the nightly ritual.

Finally, I found something that works. At first I was a little embarrassed, but I'm not anymore. We use bribery. Initially that bribery was in the form of dessert, but then we learned how much this kid likes to make and eat popcorn. Now, if he resists going to the table we say, "Do you want some popcorn?" Of course, he always says "Yeah!" Then we tell him that first he has to sit in his chair. We continue to offer popcorn throughout the dinner, always reminding him that first he has to eat his food. It works. No more tantrums. A toddler who eats good quantities of real food and is again trying things that before he wouldn't touch.

It might be considered bribery by some. I don't care. It works.


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Brianne said...

The important thing to realize is that your toddler understands "first...then." That is a very, very important skill to learn! (We are working on that with our toddler.) Also, I bribe my kids all the time. Eventually they will be old enough to do things for the right reason. And by the way, popcorn is not a bad choice--at least it's whole grain! Good parenting, E and S!

Brianne said...

Also, I don't really think of it as bribing. It's called expectation and reward. Heavenly Father expects us to do certain things, and then He rewards us. If He does it, it must be good parenting.

Brianne said...

Also, if you're still not comfortable with it, you could let him suffer the consequence: go hungry. When he decides he's hungry, give him dinner cold.

Jana said...

Ehh, it's not bribery; it's teaching choices and consequences. If Ike chooses to eat his dinner without tantrums, the consequence is that he gets popcorn. If he chooses to throw a tantrum, the consequence is that he doesn't get popcorn. Works for me!!

Packrat said...

Hey, if it works... It is the same as telling an older child he or she can't go to the mall/movies/whatever until the dishes are done and his or her bedroom is clean. Yes, and going hungry is a good option. Unless there is a medical reason, once or twice won't hurt anything.